By Ron Galella (Photographer)
(Ron Galella, Ltd, Hardcover, 9780615286785, 200pp.)
Publication Date: June 16, 2009
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For years, Ron Galella, “the godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture,” has provided the world a glimpse into the off-limits world of celebrity. With Viva l’Italia!, a deeper and more probing Galella emerges. He sets out to find his own Italian roots, and in so doing, takes us on viaggio as he combs his vast archive for images of Italian and Italian-American actors, artists, and fashion designers, along with a wide range of other cultural icons.
Galella’s tour begins in Rome’s famed Cinecittà where Federico Fellini relaxes between takes on a film set. It was Fellini who proclaimed, “paparazzi are bandits of images,” coining the word with his character Señor Paparazzo in La Dolce Vita. As he continues on, Galella presents us with rare portraits of Italy’s most famous sons and daughters, including Isabella Rossellini, Silvana Mangano, Marlon Brando, Monica Bellucci, Carla Bruni, and Sophia Loren. Never one to shy away from bad boys, he even includes the “Dapper Don,” John Gotti, emerging from federal court in Manhattan.
The appeal and power of Galella’s beautiful photography is complimented by extemporaneous quotes he has amassed over a half-century of travel and celebrity encounters. “You look Italian,” quipped Anna Magnani as Ron captured her in Rome, during the filming of The Secret of Santa Vittoria, with Virna Lisi and Anthony Quinn.
Some crossed the ocean, some changed their names, some were born in disparate locations as with Dean Martin of Steubenville, Ohio, and Frank Sinatra of Hoboken, New Jersey; but they all brought with them passion born of Italy—love of cinema, music, art, and fashion—as Galella triumphantly proclaims with Viva l’Italia!
Ron Galella is the most famous and most controversial celebrity photographer in the United States. Dubbed, “Paparazzo Extraordinaire,” by Newsweek, and, “Paparazzi Superstar,” by the Miami Herald News, Galella is willing to take great risks to get the perfect shot. A native New Yorker, Galella earned a degree in photojournalism from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and began his career as a freelance magazine and newspaper photographer in 1955. He is the author of six books, including Jacqueline (Sheed & Ward, 1974), Offguard: A Paparazzo Look at the Beautiful People (McGraw-Hill, 1976), Disc o Years (powerHouse Books, 2006), and No Pictures (powerHouse Books, 2008). His iconic prints are displayed permanently on each of the 11 floors of the landmark Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in both New York and San Francisco, the Tate Modern, and the Helmut Newton Foundation Gallery.